SVP Beard: Sybase Spreads Its Reach

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2004-10-22

SVP Beard: Sybase Spreads Its Reach

Sybase Inc. is pleased as punch with its recent earnings report, results of which were announced on Wednesday. The Dublin, Calif., companys total revenue increased to $198.7 million for the third quarter, up from $193.8 million for year-ago figures. CEO John Chen credited growth in data management and mobility solutions, plus—no surprise here—kick-butt sales in China and other geographies.

Thats all well and good, but outside of China, Sybase still has an uphill battle to get noticed next to the database overlords: Oracle Corp., Microsoft Corp. and IBM. Marty Beard, senior vice president of development and marketing, hooked up with Associate Editor Lisa Vaas after the earnings call to talk about how Sybase is enticing new customers with mobility and data management, not to mention free Linux versions of its enterprise database, ASE (Adaptive Server Enterprise).

Sybase had a good quarter. What stands out in the results?

The big news for us is there are two parts of our business: data management and mobile management. Weve been working very hard to bring that entire story and suite of solutions to our customers. This quarter we saw both pillars of our strategy take off.

Earlier in the year, we saw strong growth in mobility, but, like our competitors, we were struggling on the data management side.

What accounts for the turnaround on the data management side?

We worked to build some new solutions [that] we announced over the last couple quarters: the real-time database [ASE 12.5.2], the Mirror Activator and the dynamic archiving solution. We worked hard to build those solutions and to get them out to market, and this quarter was the first quarter we saw our installed base purchase them.

What does the uptake of those technologies say about your customer bases needs—particularly financial services, in which Sybase has traditionally been very strong?

One, weve heard forever people talk about the real-time enterprise. I think people talk about it because they need to get data quicker.

The real-time database server … allows financial services companies to move from a passive database to something thats more proactive, that alerts you, the end user, when something changed or you need to be aware of something. Thats very important in the real-time enterprise.

What about the effects of regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley?

We saw many installed-base customers purchase that technology. But we also see companies dealing with volumes and volumes of data thats growing exponentially, [from regulations such as] Sarbanes-Oxley. [Such regulations give rise to] archiving and data management problems that weve been able to address with a couple solutions.

Is the practical effect of Sarbanes-Oxley compliance making companies less efficient, rather than more? For one real-estate investment trust company the unfortunate answer is, yes. Read more here.

Lets talk about the Unwired Enterprise initiative. Where has the technology acquired in the XcelleNet Inc. acquisition wound up?

XcelleNet has been fully integrated into our mobile division. We had a good quarter with them, actually. They brought a very important category to our unwired story: mobile and remote device management. Its helping an enterprise manage what datas going out, who can see what data, authenticating users, and providing end-to-end security around device and data management.

Click here to read about Sybases acquisition of mobile management vendor XcelleNet.

Its also bringing us to new customers. McDonalds purchased XcelleNet, [The Walt Disney Co.,] Pepperidge Farm [Inc.]. Those are new verticals: major companies we havent traditionally done a lot of business with. And we can follow on those sales with other parts of our unwired stacks, and bring in new, fresh customers.

Next page: Familiarizing enterprises with Sybase technology.

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I guess the real challenge is getting enterprises familiar with Sybase technology, since its not as strong, at least in the enterprise database market, as the top companies.

The real issue is getting the story out, making sure any enterprise thats looking to unwire and move processes out to the edge has Sybase on the short list and understands why were as good as we are. Plus we need to build up our ecosystem of partners. We need tmore like Intel.

Giving away a Linux version of Sybase ASE Express Edition must be helping to spread familiarity, I would think.

We had a phenomenal response for this for Sybase. I got an update recently: We have over 9,100 downloads of ASE on Linux. Weve had huge interest from developers. Its coming from channel partners as well as developers in small to medium enterprises.

Cementing the VAR relationship will help Sybase retain its early-mover status in the wireless arena, according to CEO John Chen. Click here to read the interview.

The purpose was to get a broader segment of the market familiar with Sybase. We expect that once they hit the databases limit of 5GB—its big enough for folks to really test it out and use it—and once they need support or more capacity, theyll call us and we can make money off that.

The feedback were getting is that companies would rather deal with a true enterprise-class offering than they would with [MySQL ABs open-source database]. Its a chance to get all the bells and whistles, get familiar with it, test it, then give us a call.

Its been available for some four weeks. Have any of the downloads turned into new, paying customers?

Weve definitely had some early business. Its encouraging. Its starting to show up, a little bit more each week. Its been very popular internationally. Weve had about 60 percent [of downloads] coming from Europe or Asia.

We also had a lot of interest from channel partners: folks offering data management solutions. VARs. Thats very exciting for us, since it spreads our reach.

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